Grieving, Freedom, and Why I Wrote Live Unveiled

I am hands down a melancholy personality.

I vacillate between the Winnie the Pooh characters of Tigger and Eyeore. Sometimes, I even take on the insecurities of happy go lucky Piglet.

Sigh…I’ve been a bit dark on the blog lately due to deadlines, the death of our sweet mother-in-love and prep for speaking events. It’s a season of God ramping me up and taking me seriously on my word for the year DARE.

All I can say is WHOA and try to keep up. It’s been a year so far of leaping by faith from one big jump to the other and been exhilarating. But now I am a little tired, just a smidgen God. Not ungrateful, just trying to keep up. Can I get an amen?

I reminded God today again how much I need him to give me exactly what I need (2 Peter 1:3) to complete the assignments. Today, it meant prepping for speaking this weekend at the NW Ministry Conference, and I am over the top excited about it but with some mixed emotions.

Here’s the reason why, on March 25th, I am launching the revised study Live Unveiled: Freedom to Worship God, Love Others and Tell Your Story. It is a 10-week Bible study based on 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 which talks about reflecting God’s glory and turning to Jesus so our veils are removed, and we can walk in greater freedom. When I wrote this study years ago, it was a reflection of my journey of ripping off masks that were super glued into my soul. Lies and more lies were keeping me from embracing God’s freedom and reflecting His purposes for my life. As I tackled the lies of performance, secrecy, anger, and depression one by one, God met me in the center of my fears. For the most part, I have experienced victory since then, but now and then it creeps back in.

Several months ago I felt a gentle push to revise the study and release it with a new name and a mission to launch the study in a Facebook Group. I want to help remind women how much God desires for us to flourish and how these nasty masks can get in the way.

The response has been overwhelming. I had no idea! That’s what I love about God’s word, it is timeless, and nothing about our struggles change until we submit and do the hard work. As I’ve been getting ready, I’ve sensed a sadness wash over me, a deeper grieving. At first, it surprised me because I am anticipating God to do more profound work in myself as I lead others and we dig into His word, and I am truly excited!

What I have discovered in the past few days is a fresh grieving of how much the enemy wants to keep women and hide their influence of reflecting God’s glory. He wants us to settle in and give up. It makes me spitting mad! In response, I am gearing up and saying out loud every morning Ephesians 6:10-20, putting on my armor for God’s glory so I can reflect him in the way he is calling me to every single day. I long for all women to sense God’s freedom and unfathomable love so they can flourish.

I am inviting you to join me and the other women who have signed up on April 5th, to tackle our masks. Join our Facebook Group, Live Bold~Leave a Legacy and get ready for a time of teaching, sharing and studying the truth and experience the freedom God intends. You can purchase the study either on Amazon or until March 23rd you can receive a 30% discount from Redemption Press  using the code CYNTHIA.

I would love it if you could join us, and remember because we are in a Facebook Group you can post whenever it is convenient for you all week! 

My One Word for 2016

BOLD

bold/

adjective

1. (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

This is my one word I am declaring for 2016.

It’s taken me a few weeks to narrow it down but it’s finally settled and my one word for 2016 will be BOLD. Notice that the definition states it is an adjective and an adjective by definition is a descriptive word that names an attribute or is associated with a noun.

My tag on my personal website is Live Bold~Leave a Legacy. As I was reflecting the last few weeks of 2015 and into 2016, I realized that I needed to unpack that phrase more seriously if that is an attribute that I choose to live by.

But you know how it is, I wanted to be sure. So I made a list, a short list mind you of other words that had been running across the radar screen of my mind.

Then I prayed.

The more I talked to God about it, the more I realized I needed to just be bold in choosing this word.

Why?

Because I am a big chicken and I am afraid of just exactly what God might ask me to do or say at some point if I make this my one word for 2016.

I want to know the why and how and when and who and and get a full on explanation…get the picture? I like to know ahead of time. I like to be in control (hopeless I realize, I am dealing with God!) and I am not big on surprises. But I have a sneaky suspicion that God wants me to be bold, courageous and take a risk in embracing this as my one word for 2016. Funny, that is just what the word bold means. Go figure!

I have no clue as to what it will look like for me, but it is and will become my one word of focus because I am leaning in. I have learned (and learning) that it’s better to surrender when God whispers gently to me about something I need to follow through with… or else. I don’t want to learn the hard way what the “or else” could be. Besides, I can’t turn back now because I am sharing it with you!

I actually started choosing one word for each year decades ago. It went well for several years and then I missed a few here and there with some big gaps. The last few years that I have practiced this very simple but profound exercise has impacted me in ways that are beyond my imagination. It always, and I say always, surprises me (in a good way) what God does in and through this choosing of one word.

I am a little late to the party here in January of new starts, new thoughts, new themes and new ideas that have been floating around Facebook, Twitter and the blogging world. But I wanted to be certain and be sure. So between now and the beginning of February in this blog I am going to try and sort out just exactly what it looks like to Live Bold in jumpstarting this new year. And I might be inclined to add the rest of my tagline Leave a Legacy. Stay tuned.

I’ve been searching for all the words and similarities in the Bible on boldness and I am starting with this one today. If you are looking for an extra shot of strength, hang on to this….

On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul. Psalm 138:3.

That’s what I want Jesus, to be bold with strength in my core, my soul, my heart and my being.

So what is your one word for 2016?

Take your time, don’t rush. God has a word for you, I am believing for you. Please share I’d love to hear it!

Why You Can’t Rush the Healing of a Broken Heart

Today is a quiet day. Everything I had planned on my agenda, God wiped away and left me with a clutter free day. This Monday was supposed to be full with a car oil change, holding my sweet granddaughter and a salon appointment. One by one circumstances changed and the cancellations came in. My heart took notice and as I was sitting, resting and watching the softness in the sky of a cloudy day, God surprised me. I clicked on a link to hear a song, Clean by Natalie Grant. It’s a new song about being made clean by the maker of our heart and soul. I listened to it probably 10 times and let the truth of the lyrics take hold.

I’ve spent the last two weekends sharing with hundreds of women part of my healing journey and restoration the past few years. Those close in my world, know that my marriage was in serious trouble several years ago and I thought we weren’t going to make it. I was broken, shattered and couldn’t see any hope in the storm.

But as I shared with a crowd of women on Saturday,

Hope isn’t just an expectation, it is a person, Jesus.

He is the healer of all things broken, all things shattered when life is messy and it doesn’t make sense.

When the pain breaks you to the point of despair it’s hard to believe in the moment that you will ever be whole again.

That you will ever dream again.

That life will ever smile on you again.

I had many weeks, days and even months feeling like that. But as I chose to ride out the storm in the boat with a heart broken and shattered, Jesus made a way and gave me peace. It was hard, it was complicated, it was messy and sometimes ugly. I struggled with believing, I struggled surrendering my feelings, but out of desperation I obeyed that small still voice that said, “Trust me.” Sometimes I had to do it several times a day, hour by hour and minute by minute.

It’s so ridiculously easy to slap a spiritual bandaid on our pain, trying to move on and pretend everything is okay when inside we are unraveling. We pressure ourselves to put that mask on especially it seems in the church. And to put a Romans 8:28 (All things work together for good…) anecdote on our pain instead of just letting our reality match God’s truth without pretense.

It’s much easier to try and fake it and not deal with crushing realization of a life that isn’t working. Why do we do that as people who confess to love Jesus? Why? Honestly, it can drive me to insanity, and I know I have been a guilty party. It limits how I grieve, how I heal, how I relate, how I process and move through the pain.

I believe you can’t rush the process of healing.

I wanted to.

I wanted badly to move forward.

Others wanted me to, begged me to and I wanted with all my might to wake up and be all better right now, but I wasn’t! God gently reminded me AGAIN, Trust me, trust the process. I still want to, and yet there are remnants and pieces that are healing and I’ve come to terms, that it is okay. I can’t rush the process of what my heart is whispering to me.

This brilliant song by Natalie Grant reminded me today that the beauty of healing comes piece by piece. Not in one beautiful miraculous chunk, although I am sure God is quite capable of doing that. But I think he prefers to do it piece by piece and in His good, loving timing. Why? So I will trust him intimately with new depth in my soul.

I resonate with the line in the song, I am coming alive with joy and destiny, because you are restoring me piece by piece. That is why you can’t rush healing, it isn’t in our control, it comes in pieces. There is a purpose in the pain you and I have experienced and unless I submit to walking through it all the way piece by piece, I will miss the journey. I will miss Jesus making me fully whole and fully alive in Him.

Psalm 84:5 is one of my most treasured verses for the longest time. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!

When I was a kid I loved to jump in rain puddles. That is the point. There are no puddles, no pools without the rain, without the rainy, nasty thunder storm there is no pool of blessing. If you are wrestling today with where you are at and feel like it’s taking so long to get through the storm, remember as Natalie Grant sings in her song that he is restoring you piece by piece because that is God’s way of making us whole because He loves us
completely.

 

Why I Am Letting Go Again

photoA smiling and giggling crowd was gathering in Costco where a little girl about 7 years old was singing her heart out unaware of people coming closer to hear her belt out her favorite Disney tune, “Let it Go.” She sat in the shopping cart with her sister while her Mom was working away at the task of getting groceries. Her Mom kept shopping like nothing was out of the ordinary while her daughter sang loudly and I might add quite well using hand motions and her whole body to express the lyrics of the song made famous by the movie Frozen. Indina Menzel would have been so proud! And by the way, they were in the frozen section of the warehouse. Go figure! Whether that inspired the little girl or not while her mother threw bags of chicken nuggets and frozen peas in the cart, we will never know.

I stood there for a few minutes and watched as this child unabashedly sang with confidence as if she was rehearsing to record her next album. The song jogged my memory. Not because of the movie, but of this time last year when I went away by myself to escape the noise of life and get alone with God so I could listen and sort some junk out of my heart.

After spending nearly a week away last summer, I came home with my soul breathing again and determined that it was to be an annual event.

I had to let go of life on every level and make room in my schedule to step out of what I do so I could reflect on who I am. I had to let go, or as it is better said in Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. I like the rendering of the translation that says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (NASB)

Cease from everyday tasks,

cease from routine,

cease moving, running, planning and scheduling and just rest.

That is what letting go paints for me. I picture just stopping my life for a few days to listen deeper to my own heart and significantly closer to God’s heart as I open myself up to the silence and quiet of not moving so fast everyday.

I am not very good at letting go of my schedule and busyness of life. I don’t like to be all alone for an extended time. So please don’t think I am some spiritual giant, because I am not. What’s driven me to realize that I need this time is the clutter in my heart of late. I need to sort through the piles so I can sit and rest in the messiness of life in God’s presence and be loved by God and yes, maybe even spanked a few times.

After totally unwinding last year and reveling in the warmth of His presence, on the second to last day, God whispered gently something that was keeping me from growing.

Discouragement.

With the precision of truth, he helped me unravel the why’s and I was able to let go of some crusty layers that had accumulated on the walls of my heart. Those whispers lingered days and months after and helped me combat lies by practicing gratitude on a new level to defeat the discouragement.

So here I am this year back again, letting go and anticipating God to love me as I sit and wait for Him to whisper words of hope, encouragement and truth before I pack up and head home in a few days.

Already, my mind is challenged with emails unanswered, tasks not finished and deadlines looming next week. I am actually busier this summer than last and yet I had to make sure these few days were unmovable.

As I type these last words at my computer looking out over the placid waters of Lake Washington, I sense myself beginning to let go and the windows of my soul are ready to receive the wind of God’s spirit with this prayer hovering over me, “Here’s my heart Lord, come speak to me.”

Let’s Start Training for the 5K No Limits 55 Race!

The sun is out this week and it’s a great opportunity to get ready for the 5K No Limits 55 Race happening on June 7th. Can you see me smiling? We are just 25 days away! Have you registered yeNO-LIMITS1t? I’d love to have you celebrate my birthday and run or walk with me for justice. You can register here and get all the details.

I am a novice at this, and there is a little over 3 weeks left but I am told by my running friends there is still time to get ready. So let’s do this and start training! My two friends, Torey and Amanda who are expert runners and have planned our route have passed on this very helpful guide from the Hal Higdon Training Program. It’s an 8-week program, I know we only have a little over three weeks, but we can jump in, can’t we?

This specific training program is for those who will be walking, just like me (sigh) because my knees don’t want to run anymore. I promise you, it will be rewarding even if we walk!

Here is a snapshot from the website of what we can do over the next few weeks, especially for those of us who are new to the 5K world. If you are a more advanced runner and planning on running or jogging then check out the other programs here.

I’ll be checking in on Facebook and Twitter so stay tuned! and Happy Training!

Hal Higdon Training Program for Novices

Who Says You Have to Run to Finish a 5-K?

MANY, IF NOT MOST, 5-K RUNNING RACES WELCOME WALKERS. Whether or not the event includes a competitive racewalking division (which requires judges), walkers usually can participate in most running races. Sometimes walkers start well before the runners, sometimes they start after the runners, sometimes they start at the same time. (Tip: Start in the back so you don’t embarrass yourself by forcing faster runners to go around you.)

If your only interest is to stroll 5-K at a comfortable pace, you probably don’t need any particular training program. Just make sure you have a comfortable pair of walking shoes and do enough walks of at least 15-30 minutes in the last month or two before the 5-K to make sure you won’t have any trouble finishing the 3.1-mile distance.

But if you would like more guidance, here is a training program you can use. The following information relates to the eight-week 5-K training program for walkers that follows:

Monday: Rest or walk. You trained pretty hard over the weekend, so use this day of rest if you experience any fatigue, or if your leg muscles are sore. In my Novice training programs developed for runners, Monday is usually a rest day. Only the Intermediate and Advanced runners train on this day.

Tuesday: Many of my training programs utilize a 48-hour break between bouts of hard exercise, so it’s time to train again. In this eight-week program, begin by walking for 15 minutes at a comfortable pace. Every other week, add another 5 minutes to the length of your walk. By going at it gradually, you should be able to improve your walking ability without discomfort or risk of injury.

Wednesday: Rest or walk. Hard/easy is a common pattern among runners. You train hard to exercise your muscles, then rest to give them time to recover. You might want to take today off, but if yesterday’s walk went good, feel free to walk again, regardless of distance. If you’re really feeling strong, repeat the Saturday or Sunday pattern for your Wednesday walks.

Thursday: This is a repeat of Tuesday’s workout pattern. Begin with 15 minutes and add five more minutes to your walk every second week.

Friday: Another rest day. You need to make sure your muscles are well rested so you can train hard on the weekends. Depending on your own particular schedule, you may want to juggle workouts, substituting one day’s workout for another. It doesn’t matter much on which day you do specific workouts as long as you are consistent with your training.

Saturday: The Saturday workouts are stated in miles rather than minutes. This is to give you an idea of how much distance you are able to cover over a specific period of time as well as to give you confidence in your ability to walk 5 kilometers. The 5-K is actually 3.1 miles long, so by the time you get to the 3-miler on the seventh Saturday, you will be only a short distance from achieving your goal.

Sunday: At least one day a week, it’s a good idea to go for a long walk without worrying about exactly how much distance you cover. For instance, walk in the woods over unmeasured trails. Most people should be able to walk continuously for an hour at least once a week, even if it means walking very slowly or pausing to rest. If walking an hour seems too difficult the first week, start with 30 minutes and by adding 5 minutes each week, build up to the point where you can walk continuously for 60 minutes.

The following eight-week training program will prove useful for you as you train for your first 5-K as a fitness walker. If at a later date, you decide you want to try jogging a 5-K, there are many programs on this web site that will help you to that goal. If you would like to walk longer distances, I also have a Half Marathon Walking Program here on my web site that you can adapt to your level of development.

WEEK MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
1 Rest or walk 15 min walk Rest or walk 15 min walk Rest 1.5 m walk 30-60 min walk
2 Rest or walk 15 min walk Rest or walk 15 min walk Rest 1.75 m walk 35-60 min walk
3 Rest or walk 20 min walk Rest or walk 20 min walk Rest 2 m walk 40-60 min walk
4 Rest or walk 20 min walk Rest or walk 20 min walk Rest 2.25 m walk 45-60 min walk
5 Rest or walk 25 min walk Rest or walk 25 min walk Rest 2.5 m walk 50-60 min walk
6 Rest or walk 25 min walk Rest or walk 25 min walk Rest 2.75 m walk 55-60 min walk
7 Rest or walk 30 min walk Rest or walk 30 min walk Rest 3 m walk 60 min walk
8 Rest or walk 30 min walk Rest or walk 30 min walk Rest Rest 5-K Race

 

 

No Limits 5K Birthday Run


NoLimitsI am announcing that I am getting in shape to do something out of my comfort zone…

5K Run~NO LIMITS~5K Run, Walk, Give, Transform.  

Actually, it will be a walk for me, my knees no longer want to run anywhere, they just walk.

This isn’t any 5K Run, it has an intentional purpose for this season of my life. I want to mark turning 55 this year. YIKES! Did I just say that out loud? Yes, it’s true and I am embracing it as a gift to have lived over half a century.

I want to mark it differently this year. I invite you to read the whole story at SheLoves Magazine a global community of women who are partnering with me to make this 5K dream come true! My goal is to raise $5500, $100 for each year I’ve been blessed. Whether you join us for the race, or if you can’t make it because of your schedule or live too far away, you can still join in. Register and details click here

I would love for you to celebrate my “BIG” birthday,  June 7th at 10:00 am, starting the race at the Birch Bay Water Slides and when we are done we will have a yummy lunch and learn more about the two initiatives~women who desperately need our love and support in Rwanda and Moldova.  I want to take as many friends with me to mark this day and walk for justice. Here’s to putting on running shoes…I mean my walking shoes and heading out to the sunshine today to start training. 

P.S. I will have some training tips coming this week from two of my friends who are the REAL runners.

When You Are Facing a Perfect Storm: Part Two

They were terrified as the waves of the storm tossed them around violently.

Their heart stood still for a moment and they lost it screaming for the one they thought cared about them, but who was sleeping.

Jesus, their friend, the Son of God and Creator of the Universe.

They woke Jesus up desperate to save them.

Their eyes were on the waves and they lost perspective.

They had seen him perform miracle after miracle. And even though He was physically in the boat with them, they still doubted and lost perspective because they kept their eyes on the obstacles. They didn’t truly understand who was in their midst. It was Jesus, God in the flesh, with all power, all knowing and they still couldn’t get it.

Isn’t that what happens to us as well? Our eyes stay on the obstacles and the gigantic waves and we can’t see the bigger picture. In other words, the disciples forgot their story and what they had experienced in Jesus presence moments if not hours earlier and their perspective became cloudy.

Hearts failed, nearly like a heart attack. Unbelief screamed believing they were being abandoned to capsize and drown. Many of them were fisherman and they had been on this body of water many times. They knew the sea like the back of their hands and had been in all kinds of conditions on the Sea of Galilee. But this time was different, they had Jesus with them.

They knew what the sea was capable of and yet they followed Jesus. Right into the boat anyway.  Isn’t that what you and I do? Isn’t that what trust is all about? But what about when the waves seem to rise up like skyscrapers, over everything, then what? Trust and faith all get thrown overboard.

This is where our story comes in. Remembering our story and how God has written the pieces of His faithfulness from each season of my life and yours, helps us to keep perspective and not lose it totally. I’ve lost it many times more than I’d like to admit. Jesus seems silent, asleep, distant in my storm as the boat rocks and I lose my footing and bang myself against the side of the boat. My perspective gets skewed being tossed and torn from the wind and waves.  Although at times I may lose my grip in a storm, remembering that God is the author of my story helps me to calm down and take a breath. God is writing my story and He always has the final word.

What three words at this moment describe the waves that are sweeping over the boat in your life? Words like….

Anxiety

Fear

Hopelessness

Despair

Discouragement

Disappointment

Insecurity

Failure

This reveals your heart and what’s happening inside. It’s important to know this, verbalize it and surrender it to Jesus so you and I can keep perspective as we replace the noise of lies that build with each mounting wave.

Hear Jesus ask you the question as He did His disciples, Why are you afraid? This is your moment and the turning point in the storm to verbalize your fears so God can reassure you with His love and peace.

What is the miracle of God rescuing and drawing you in a past season? These are the spiritual markers of remembrance to anchor your emotions and soul when the storm threatens the foundation of your faith.

Your story. My story. The author is God. When we follow Him into the boat and an unexpected storm rises up all around us, we can be assured that He is bigger than the waves, more powerful than the wind and He will bring us through.

So name the fears that paralyze and those doubts that turn your eyes from Jesus to the obstacles.  You and I will get wet, we might be whipped up from the salty wind of the storm, but we can overcome and we can believe that God has the final word. Yes, He does, the very last word.

 

When You are Facing the Perfect Storm: Part One

A few months ago I had the amazing privilege of speaking to an incredible audience of Chinese young adults at the 53rd Chinese Winter Conference. They were hungry to engage and learn about how their lives could stay anchored in the midst of a life storm. I was overwhelmed by their response and so blessed to share three days with them teaching and interacting.

They took copious notes, asked questions that challenged their own cultural battles of admitting weakness when life is uncertain. I had many wonderful conversations and I really think that I was touched more deeply than the impact I may have had on them.

These next few blog posts are excerpts from the time I had at the conference. My prayer is that it will bless you and help infuse your life with hope as you face your own “perfect storm.”

On September 20, 1991, six fishermen in Gloucester, Mass. kissed their families and said goodbye to friends and boarded the 72 foot steel hulled swordfish vessel, The Andrea Gail. Towards the end of the fishing venture in late October they encountered what even the most daring sailors would hesitate to want to relive.

A storm stronger than any in recorded history hit the coast off of Gloucester, Massachusetts. “The Perfect Storm” it was called because it was three storms combined into one and it created an almost apocalyptic situation in the Atlantic Ocean. Boats encountered waves the equivalent of a ten story building or 100 feet. Three pieces of separate energy came together in one system that wreaked havoc up and down the East Coast of North America.

If you watched the movie, what the producer speculated is that the Andrea Gail and its crew headed straight into the center of the storm unknowingly due to lost radio contact. Six brave men headed deeper and deeper into the center of the storm not realizing that this was a storm greater than anything they had experienced before, all while trying to get back to their community of Gloucester.

In his book Junger wrote of the fate of the Andrea Gail that was caught in the storm southeast of Nova Scotia.

“On the evening of October 28, the Andrea Gail managed radio contact with fellow fishing boats farther from the storm. Through a scream of wind and static, the captain gave a terse report: They were doing their best to get through a storm so strong that it was ripping away equipment attached to the deck with steel bolts.

The Andrea Gail gave her position and signed off. No one reported hearing from her again. Days later, rescue and search teams found a few of the boat’s fuel drums, but no trace of its six crew members.”

The crew was declared lost and the community of Gloucester was devastated.
The best guess is that the Andrea Gail went under within hours of last radio contact. It was most likely swamped by a gigantic wave.

Like the conditions that caused the perfect storm, life can sometimes create a “perfect storm” and unknowingly because of several conditions, we can lose perspective and find ourselves right in the middle of a deadly storm and feel like we are capsized by a giant wave, feeling almost unable to recover, keep perspective or see little or no hope. It’s hard to hang onto hope when you might feel like you are drowning. But hope is not intangible, it is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ and He is with you and with me. This truth is  found in the story of Matthew when the disciples were in the boat with Jesus and a great storm rose up on the sea.

Then he got in the boat, his disciples with him. The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm. Waves were crashing into the boat—and he was sound asleep! They roused him, pleading, “Master, save us! We’re going down!” Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: “Silence!” The sea became smooth as glass. Matthew 8:23-27 The Message Bible

I wonder how many of you at this moment, might just feel like the disciples and the waves in your life seem to be mounting into a perfect storm. But you aren’t able to quite see it because your perspective is clouded. And you aren’t sure if your radio contact so to speak with God is being heard, or processed.

So the doubts creep in, fear develops, anxiety begins to rule our thoughts and discouragement and depression can set in. These are all signs of a perfect storm that is seeking to converge on you and me to lure us away from our loving God and Savior.

I want to say up front that we have a very real enemy who wants to defeat us in the storm, in the test, in the trial. You see, Satan, our enemy desire is for us to get lost in the storm, get off course, distrust God and be fearful of the future. And if he can get those three things to line up and collide with each other, then BAM! We can be easily toppled by a wave of gigantic doubt and fear in the midst of the circumstances!

Here’s what I have learned new and fresh from this story….

First, Jesus got in the boat and the disciples followed him.

This is your story, my story, when we choose to follow Jesus.

It is the story that God is writing.

Our stories start when we were born, the events that lead right up to this moment and every moment after today. It is your unique story and mine of how God draws us to himself. When you and I choose to follow him, we walk in the same footsteps just different circumstances like each of the disciples when they chose to follow him.

Next, while they were following him it says….

Suddenly, a furious storm, came up on the lake so the waves swept over the boat. It was unannounced, it came up suddenly when the sky was perfectly clear.  Let me explain how this happens on the Sea of Galilee

To understand the causes of these sudden and violent tempests we must remember that the Galilee lies low — six hundred and eighty feet below the sea;  it is 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, the squalls come down from Mt. Hermon with a terrific force. The word used is “seimsmos megas” like an earthquake (Bible Expository Commentary)

So there is no exaggeration that it was a violent, furious, tempest that came up suddenly.

Here is something else you might want to note.

The storm came in the midst of their obedience to Jesus.  I am still reflecting on this truth and it is changing the way I think about the storms that come in my own life.

They followed him into the boat.

It wasn’t a storm that happened like to Jonah, who disobeyed God and ran away and then God sent a storm.

Here’s the takeaway,  when you and I follow Jesus, we will encounters storms, unexpectantly AND we shouldn’t be surprised!

They will happen.

But our human nature thinks the opposite because it’s hard to comprehend unconditional love in our human framework, we might be tempted to think….

What have we done to cause this storm, what have I done wrong? 

I know my brain has gone there many times.

I am learning that God’s love over us isn’t conditional. The disciples hadn’t done anything wrong, they just followed Jesus in to the boat.

And that’s what we do when we follow Jesus and give our lives to him. We follow him right into the boat, and unknowingly sometimes right into a storm. But He doesn’t leave us alone, He is with us. We may think He is sleeping or not paying attention, but He is riding the storm with us and promises to never leave us, ever!!

Stay tuned for part two when we will look at the disciples reaction and how to keep perspective in the midst of a “perfect storm.”

Junger, Sebastian (2000). The Perfect Storm. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Pg.38

A Rejected Valentine

His name was Richard, he had strawberry blonde red hair and freckles and I was madly in love. I was 8 years old and experienced my first broken heart on Valentine’s Day in the third grade. I made a special paper Valentine just for him and he promptly told me he wasn’t interested and that girls were yucky! Those weren’t the exact words, but that is the memory I carry of my little heart being shattered. It didn’t matter that I received 24 other Valentines from my classmates, the one I gave to the one I loved was thrown back and rejected.

I have to tell you the backstory, I don’t really blame Richard, because I was demanding that he choose me, like me, be my friend. I had cornered him on the playground and smothered him with kisses as he screamed for the playground teacher to come rescue him. She promptly ran over and told me that it was no way for a young lady to act with a boy. In my eight year old mind, I was uninhibited and I just had to let Richard know that I was in love with him and expected him to return the affection. Well he didn’t, and I traumatized him probably for the rest of his elementary school years.

I think that is where it all started for me, the people pleasing, wanting desperately to be understood as the little girl grew up to be an adult. It isn’t that I wasn’t loved well, I truly was, but I was a passionate person who loved life and everything in it and I don’t believe that era knew what to do with passionate people.  Little girls who had great passion were somehow made to believe that they needed to calm down, be more cautious and for crying out loud just get control of yourself. Those were the messages I received, well intentioned but yet no one showed me how to really navigate the great surges of passion that would overtake me when I felt strongly and wanted to make a difference. And so I kept it inside, tucked away quietly, neat and tidy and spoke of it at times in whispers with close friends I trusted. I fell into the rhythm that my beliefs and thoughts should remain neutral and so I did whatever it took to not make waves, sometimes even going against my own heart. Little by little my heart stopped speaking because I stopped listening. The saddest thing about that is, I believed it was the most spiritual path because those were the thread of messages woven in the Christian Culture I experienced. So I threw myself into music and drama for several seasons because those were the places it was safe to express what I was feeling and seemingly acceptable to others.

I have come to embrace that God created me to be a passionate person and I might just have a little bit more than some people are comfortable with. I’ve wrestled this out and come to believe that it’s actually wrong to deny who God made me. When I step back, people please and cover the voice of my heart, I am inauthentic, I’ve lost my voice, and rejected the path of influence I can carry to my world.

I believe that is what the writer in Proverbs is saying,

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23).

Be authentic.

Listen.

Observe.

Be aware.

I haven’t been very good at guarding my heart, I’ve let others talk me out of it instead of listening to God’s still small voice. But I am learning, my heart is awake and beginning to breathe again as I ask God to guide me in what it means to guard my heart. I am still figuring it out, and since it is Valentine’s Day I am reminded that my heart resides with God and he knows exactly what to do with my passionate thoughts and pursuits.

I am grateful.

I am content.

I am loved intensely by the God of the Universe and it is more than amazing.

Happy Valentine’s Day…

(image from www.thecraftycrow.net)

 

 

Pulling out Joy in the Drawer

gratitudeHow about a crazy just for fun blog post for the end of this week? I just need to know if anyone else thinks like this, or am I the only one?

Going to my top drawer in my dresser, I have my assortment of undergarments, or can I say panties? Of course, it’s the 21st century! But for those of you young things, we were raised to not speak of such things in public. I can remember my Dad remarking when I was a teenager of how nothing was sacred anymore because of the feminine commercials on TV and the stress of a woman’s cycle. He about threw-up, and left the room every time.

Here’s my dilemma. I have about 5-7 good-looking pair of panties, and if a bus hit me, I would feel okay about wearing. Then I have about 3-4 pairs of scraggly, not fit so well, uncomfortable ones. Of course I reach for the first 5-7 pair and leave the others to languish in the drawer until I am desperate for clean underwear. But when I get really busy and forget to throw the elite pairs in the washer I have to resort to choosing second best. Every time that happens, I hear my mother’s voice in my head, “Clean and neat underwear in case you get in a wreck.” Those weren’t her exact words, but the paraphrase of what I remember. Honestly, how do tapes like that stay in our head? And does it really matter? If I did get in a wreck, will it cause a hospital press conference because I have tattered ill-fitting panties on?

I guess it falls into the category of the saying “putting your best foot forward.” But what if it isn’t possible? That’s the dilemma. Can you hear the transition? For my faithful readers, I think you know me too well I can’t write a whole blog post without some kind of parallel to the crazy!

Here’s the deal, as I was mulling it over I thought to myself, how often do I do this in life, choosing from the elite category of my okay happy emotions to put on my best face when in reality, I’ve run out of clean and happy. What do I do then? Pretend? Yes, sad to say, many times I pretend when everything is not okay inside. This is where it gets sticky for me. I want to be transparent and want to be authentic but I don’t want to be a downer. Can we be real and still be encouraging? I’m just asking.

January, in particular it seems like I am reaching for the drawer and all I have left is second best. I try to garner up the strength and put on my game-face when in reality I am feeling a little tattered and ill fit. Mostly, I think because I am tired in the aftermath of a chaotic few months.

For me that looks like, backing up and withdrawing because I just don’t have it in me to pretend. If I am not making sense, bear with me as I process this out loud with you. Here is what I think I am learning.

The Bible talks about being joyful in the midst of trials, suffering, burn-out etc. (For reference look at James 1:2-12, Psalm 107:22, Psalm 119:43) I don’t think it means pretending and putting on a game face. I think the writers are encouraging us to be mindful that in the process of experiencing life and especially more difficult seasons, we can’t forget about joy and hope. They just don’t come to us in truckloads.

We have to….

Cultivate grateful thoughts

Confess joy

Diligently turn ugly thoughts into positive

Bury ourselves in His promises

Practice contentment.

I think at times I have bought into the myth that if I am doing the right thing in hard times, that joy will automatically come to me. But according to the over 300 verses in the Bible surrounding joy, it seems to me that joy comes as a result of something that I have to practice in both my mind and heart. A big one is just being grateful. It’s funny how gratitude can shift our focus. I can be awakened to joy as I practice daily contentment and gratitude. Robert Louis Stevenson said once, “The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”

The motto of this blog posting is this, if I go to the drawer of my heart and I am at the end of clean and happy, I can choose joy by practicing gratitude. I don’t have to walk around tattered and empty. When I am empty that attitude of gratitude even in the midst of difficulties can bring joy to others in spite of my own circumstances and I don’t have to feel like I am a downer with others.  Let’s face it, life can be hard, it’s unpredictable and it is disappointing more times than we’d like to admit.  But through the eyes of gratitude, life is wondrous and an amazing gift of joy.

What will you pull out of your drawer today?

P.S. Okay, I know that some of you reading won’t be able to get past the, “Why doesn’t she just get rid of those the few pair of panties that cause her grief.” I promise, I’ll think about it and let you know….

 

(picture from http://www.dailygood.org/story/578/the-neuroscience-of-why-gratitude-makes-us-healthier-ocean-robbins/)